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Okay by request....my review of the Well-Trained Mind (extremely long)

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I want to begin with the explanation that this is my view of the book, that these are merely my opinions on the book.  I know there are many people who love this book and there are many who embrace the "classical education" approach.  I was asked to review the book when I finished it.  I have decided to review the first part of the book: The Grammar Stage because I will probably be putting the book away for a while.

I agree that history is a story and should be taught that way for the 1-4th grades, history should begin when our understanding of history began and progress to the present without jumping around and confusing children, children will learn very well being taught an earth-centric manner and slowly moving down to community and family centric instead of beginning in their community and expanding out to the world; science can (and should) be broken down into full disciplines instead of teaching bits of each discipline each year and growing ever deeper in their understanding;  phonics, reading and math are the most important subjects for the early learners and all else is icing on the educational cake at that age; and lastly we should be aiming for a well-rounded child who has at least an appreciation of all subjects.

Now for what I disagree with: her ideas on what exactly makes up appropriate reading materials for the grammar stage child, teaching Latin to 3rd and 4th graders, her ideas on the use of Computers and Videos, and lastly the vast amount of time she suggests for this young age.

I have 2 disagreements with this book on what is appropriate reading material for the grammar stage.  The first is that she actually has a rant against Goosebumps, Spinechillers, and Sweet Valley High.  She goes on for paragraphs lamenting that the child who reads those books (even for their "free read time") will turn away from "anything that makes his brain work too hard."  In my opinion, that is snobbery that is actually not based in reality.  As a former teacher I watched many, many children who raced their way through the entire shelf of Goosebump books somewhere near middle school and began to pull out the more gruesome tales of horror from Dracula to Frankenstein to Titus Andronicus.  I met many a girl who worked her way through the teenage-crush novels to move on to Emma and Wuthering Heights and The Taming of the Shrew.  It is hogs-wallop that a child will simply turn away from the longer sentences and double entendres present in more advanced books.

The second disagreement is that she seems to believe that all of the pieces of literature one selects should be part of the canon, so much so that in fact the first female author in her list is Jane Austen who was born in 1775 for goodness sakes!  I was very disappointed not to see any of the female authors I learned of and fell in love with: Bradstreet, Wroth, Wollstonecraft, and Abigail Adams!!!  Sigh.  As someone who railed against the canon in my classroom, I am certainly going to teach my children that women helped shape the world too.  Actually my very first criticism of the book came when I noticed how man-centric it was.  I had hoped we had left that behind.

Now teaching Latin to 3rd and 4th graders will teach them to think outside of their personal perspective; however, I believe children would be better served learning etymology than learning Latin.  Her argument is that [Latin makes up] "about 50% of English vocabulary."  This is simply not true.  English is made up of many languages: a good part of English is Greek (think phobias, anything beginning with angio- or ending with -gogue); Anglo-Saxon (like angry, hungry, birth and dead); Celtic (anything ending in ough); Norse (odd ones like berserk and kiosk).  Latin is awesome and if a child has a desire to learn it, then YAY!  BUT most children will be bored to tears with learning a language that they cannot talk to another living soul who speaks it.  Learning French, Spanish, German, Yiddish even will be much more well-received, especially if there is someone in the family or the neighborhood who can understand them!  Learning etymology is awesome and again if a child has a desire to learn it at this young age then...way cool.  But even with my love of linguistics, etymology is really not something a child will want to learn.  Yes, Yes I know that not everything needs to be fun, but I would much rather "force" mathematics, phonetics, grammar, and usable vocabulary than to force things that are so far outside the cultural norm.

Computers and videos definitely have their place in learning.  Her descriptions of a child watching Sesame Street were laughable.  My children almost never "sit slack jawed" while watching videos.  Their minds are constantly working.  They are noticing new vocabulary, yelling out suggestions to the characters, noticing characters we've covered (watching the Viking Apocalypse they noticed Ethelred the Unready and the Viking Leader Sweyn the Forkbeard).  Okay I'll admit that we watch some uncommon movies, but there are times and places for such things and I do not believe she gives them even that much credit.

Lastly, I do not for one minute think that school should take more than 3 hours for a 1st grader.  Her minimum times add up to 19 hours of work per week; divided into 5 days puts a child at nearly 4 hours of work before gym and free reading is added into the mix.

by on Jan. 12, 2014 at 4:31 PM
Replies (21-30):
bluerooffarm
by Gold Member on Jan. 13, 2014 at 1:06 PM
1 mom liked this

Sorry, with the way you said that fluff has it's place but you don't see the classics as boring I was afraid you had interpretted it that I found them boring, so I just wanted to clarify in case. :-)

IMO the language of the original will do the censoring for me.  The Illiad is not written in apropriate language for a 1st grader to understand it even if I read it aloud to him from a translation.  Seeing an adaptation of it makes me think that it has been brought down in language to the level of a 1st grader. Does that make sense? My kids can listen to translations of some classics or even just the classic itself (like The Magician's Nephew or the Burton translation of the Arabian Nights) and understand it.  With Beowulf or Canterbury Tales a translation wouldn't cut it, instead it would need an adaptation.  I guess I'm a snob and completely dislike adaptations!  LOL

Quoting jen2150: I think some censoring is necessary though. Young kids are very impressionable. There were many things I didn't let my kids watch that I would have no problem now. I wasn't saying you were saying the classics are boring. There are age appropriate classics. I mostly agreed with most of what you were saying. My son was turned on to reading by reading Garfield comic books. Kids taste in books will evolve as they get older

Quoting bluerooffarm:


Quoting jen2150: I agree with alot of what you said. When I read her book a couple years back I lked some parts but found following the classic model very daunting. We love technology and use quite often. Fluff books have their place but I don't see the classics as boring. I think classic literature has much richer content. I think a combination is the best way to go. My sons have enhaled Roald Dahl. I read them classics. We are doing Heidi right now and they love it. We don't teach latin currently. I like her idea of learning a language that is similar to English and one that is completely opposite. I think the amount of hours for children that young is ridiculous. Also developing an interest in every subject should be every homeschoolers goal. 2 hours was plenty for my boys at that age. I find I enjoyed her book eventhough I didn't agree with all of it.

I don't see the classics as boring either, but I think introducing them at appropriate times is key.  Her example of little children (1st graders) enjoying the classical Greek literature because picturing Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the city of Troy is cool (which is by far the most extreme point she made on this issue) was the point that completely appalled me.  

My 1st grader is reading Say Cheese and Die during his free read and I am reading him The Magician's Nephew.  I did not say don't teach the classics, I am simply disagreeing with her stance on censoring their free reading time.  I am completely against censoring.  If my sons picked up The Illiad, I would let them read it.  But if they want to read a Graphic Novel I will not say no to that either.

Her tone often seems condescending and judgemental, so I am going to be putting it down for a while.  I would much rather spend my time reading other books until my boys are nearing the next stage of education.


bluerooffarm
by Gold Member on Jan. 13, 2014 at 1:19 PM

I completely and totally agree with this!

Quoting KickButtMama:


I also think the term - everything in moderation - applies, even to homeschooling. Be it fluff, or classic literature, to tv documentaries! And I think the length of a school day should be defendant on the student. My eldest would be a happy clam doing 6 hours of school a day, whereas my youngest is happy with 2-3. 


celtic77dragon
by Member on Jan. 17, 2014 at 5:08 AM

A few quotes from the intro section of the Well Trained Mind:

Pg XXV - Practical Considerations: Using The Well Trained Mind -

"It's a rare parent who will follow this program exactly. The freedom to tailor an academic program to your child's particular interests and needs is one of home education's greatest advantages." 

..."but our specific schedules, texts, and programs are just illustrations of how to put this philosophy into practice."  

..."you should always feel free to substitute, to pick and choose".

"It's a rate child who will do all the work we suggest - especially in the early grades."


First off, no-one who actually knew what a classical education was, would EVER think that you do it (based on what you said). You do not follow the trivium which is the core and essence to a classical education; classical education is the application of the trivium. It can be used with classic and modern materials. The materials themselves do NOT make it a classical education. The use of ONLY classical materials is a humanist classical education.

I understand that you wrote a lot - it is just that there is not even a mention of the trivium. I guess that I thought the review was supposed to be helpful by being informative concerning what the book/method was about. However, maybe it was just to give your two cents on specific details within the book that you do and do not like. 

You misunderstand what the trivium is. You are taking it too literal. The child can ask questions and use logic. However, the FOCUS is on content during the grammar stage. The lessons and assignments should focus more on filling their minds with imagery and facts. Background knowledge. You will add more to this as time goes on, but you are giving them the foundation to build upon. So you want to read a lot, cover a wide range of topics, give them lots of images. It is a great time for hands on projects, museum trips, nature walks, etc. 

Then in the second stage, you focus more on the logic and digging deeper into the material. The third stage is focused more on having the kids expand all of the previous skills AND to master regurgitating the information back in their own words. ((these are my quick description of the stages)).

All of these things can be done at any stage. However, the FOCUS changes. 

With reading ages, this varies. I understood her to mean for it to happen naturally for the child and not to force it. The tv time was mentioned in the preschool section and it said to limit the tv time so that you talk to the child often. It has been proven that this helps the development of the language portion of the brain. It is COMMONLY known to help with reading skills. That section of the book is even titled "Reading". I found no mention of educational videos or computers (I only quickly skimmed the grammar stage portion for it).

Oh, as for the length of time for the grammar stage - 1) as I quoted up top, she mentions adapting schedules 2) 4hrs is NOT a lot for a stage that covers 1-4 grades. 3) The times that you counted up... it says "60-110 mins BY fourth grade. (that means they work themselves UP to being able to handle doing a total of 4hrs a day till 4th grade.  

I agree about the environment being a factor. Classical education isn't without any of the things that I underlined below unless the environment lacks them. It has NOTHING to do with classical education itself. 

You took her too literal again with the sponge comment below. She did not say that children have NOTHING AT ALL to offer. She even put a paragraph in prior to talking about this and it says "There is nothing wrong with self expression, but when self expression pushes the accumulation of knowledge off stage, something is out of balance."  She was just saying youre not to really get a lot out of a child without putting anything into it. Im sorry but that is how the world works. Rarely does anything just happen on its own. There needs to be something invested (I cant think of too many situations where this isn't true in life). The more information ANYONE has, the more they have to offer (to themselves and the world). 

I do not think the problem was this books interpertation of the method, but instead, it likely was your interpertation of the book that was the problem. But hey, hopefully anyone who is interested in this method/book will educate themselves by reading it for themselves. The method certainly is not for everyone.

Im not sure how she came off condescending to you. She wasn't trying to be snobby or intellectually superior. However, she does prefer a specific form of education and decided to write a book about it since she has been homeschooled with the method, homeschooled her children with the method, has college degrees in the areas of history and english AND was teacher at school that used the method, as well as at a college. I am pretty sure that all of this experience and knowledge gives her credence on the matter. The book is a guide and has some instructional purposes. Im never shy about being honest, and I think that coming in here to write a book review on a book you did not finish, for a method that you do not use - is more condescending than anything you read in that book. 



Quoting bluerooffarm:

I wouldn't even be able to tell what method I primarily use.  I am eclectic and use what works for my kids.  I know what methods I don't use.  I am not an unschooler by any stretch of the imagination.  Looking from the outside many might actually believe I am using the classical method.  They would most likely wonder why we are not teaching Latin.  Looking at her list of works 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders should be exposed to, my kids have covered the eras in history and have heard of or read many of them, we have covered all of the topics she list for science for those grade levels, we cover grammar and etymology heavily, we read excessively even the youngest who are really just looking at pictures much of the time, we cover classical artists and music along with modern art and music.  

I felt as though what I wrote was extremely long, so I never even got to the stages of education.  

My opinion about the stages or levels is that my kids have always been curious about why and how things happen.  I never have to ask them why the vikings invaded France, they would begin speculating that all on their own.  So I disagree with her expectations of the very young (grammar stage) children.  I think critical thinking can occur much earlier than she expects it.  And she seems to be under the impression that kids will not come to you and ask to learn to read until they are fairly old, I've seen this happen very early.  My youngest son asked me to teach him to read when he was three.  Based on these occurances in my home, I don't see the stages as strictly as she seems to.

I think the stages of a child's development and the way they come to learning will depend a great deal on their environment.  My kids are surrounded by quality videos, they hear wonderful conversations at the supper and breakfast tables, they see how we stop a video and discus what we think is ludicrous or look up a historical fact that we do not know, they are surrounded by books (high literature, fluff, informational books, college tomes, we have it all), they are surrounded by family members who have differing political and religious views and who are able to hold discussions about those topics without name-calling or even making others angry.  I think environment plays a huge part in a child's development and I have always invited my children to give their opinions on topics.  I could be wrong, but her attitude that children are like a sponge and until they are filled with knowledge they have nothing to give would not work in our family.  Children are ushered right into the discussion from as early as they can.

I have not read any other books on the classical method.  And since it doesn't appear from my interpretations of this particular book that it would fit our family, I will most likely look elsewhere for other methods that will fit us better.  I chose this one because it was recommended so highly as a measure of the classical method.  If there is another that is recommended as a better explanation, I would still be curious to see other interpretations of the classical method.


Quoting celtic77dragon:

I mainly use a classical education; though I do have the flavor of some other methods mixed within. So I have been intriqued and waiting for this post. I am pretty sure you do not use the classical method so I was curious how this would turn out.

I assumed this would be like me writing a book review related to unschooling or Waldorf. Which might not be as fair or helpful to those who do use those methods or that are interested in them. So of course I would have preferred a review by someone like Aimee who has used the classical education, knows about the method quite a bit, and has read multiple books on the topic. 

I enjoyed reading this though; it was interesting to get your point of view on some of the aspects of both the method and the book. 

I have no arguements on the issues that you had with the book. It is subjective and adaptable. However, there is little to no information here on what the classical method is, the stages, how and why the subjects are taught, etc. I would consider these to be the more important aspects of the book. 



TidewaterClan
by on Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Howdy Celtic!  :)   In defense of Blue, she'd had a post before Christmas about educational gifts folks had under the tree.  One of her presents was "The Well Trained Mind", and she was looking forward to reading it.  I asked her to let us know what she thought of it, and that's just what she did.  She gave her honest opinion, and that was what I (and others I'm sure) had asked.  I didn't see her view from the perspective of a person who wants to follow the classical method.  I saw it from the point of view of someone who is eclectic, and for me that was extremely handy.

I also thoroughly, and completely, enjoyed reading your presentation of the book.  Even though we're not (completely) following the classical method I can see from your reply where we are including much more than I thought, and that helps me conclude (between both of you) that adding it to my reading list would be beneficial.

JMO, but I love hearing what everyone thinks about a topic.  I always consider their background.  Honestly, that's why it's so great to have multiple reviews on a book/subject/??? because I identify with each person in a different way.  The more views, the easier my decisions become. :) 

Quoting celtic77dragon:

A few quotes from the intro section of the Well Trained Mind:

Pg XXV - Practical Considerations: Using The Well Trained Mind -

"It's a rare parent who will follow this program exactly. The freedom to tailor an academic program to your child's particular interests and needs is one of home education's greatest advantages." 

..."but our specific schedules, texts, and programs are just illustrations of how to put this philosophy into practice."  

..."you should always feel free to substitute, to pick and choose".

"It's a rate child who will do all the work we suggest - especially in the early grades."


First off, no-one who actually knew what a classical education was, would EVER think that you do it (based on what you said). You do not follow the trivium which is the core and essence to a classical education; classical education is the application of the trivium. It can be used with classic and modern materials. The materials themselves do NOT make it a classical education. The use of ONLY classical materials is a humanist classical education.

I understand that you wrote a lot - it is just that there is not even a mention of the trivium. I guess that I thought the review was supposed to be helpful by being informative concerning what the book/method was about. However, maybe it was just to give your two cents on specific details within the book that you do and do not like. 

You misunderstand what the trivium is. You are taking it too literal. The child can ask questions and use logic. However, the FOCUS is on content during the grammar stage. The lessons and assignments should focus more on filling their minds with imagery and facts. Background knowledge. You will add more to this as time goes on, but you are giving them the foundation to build upon. So you want to read a lot, cover a wide range of topics, give them lots of images. It is a great time for hands on projects, museum trips, nature walks, etc. 

Then in the second stage, you focus more on the logic and digging deeper into the material. The third stage is focused more on having the kids expand all of the previous skills AND to master regurgitating the information back in their own words. ((these are my quick description of the stages)).

All of these things can be done at any stage. However, the FOCUS changes. 

With reading ages, this varies. I understood her to mean for it to happen naturally for the child and not to force it. The tv time was mentioned in the preschool section and it said to limit the tv time so that you talk to the child often. It has been proven that this helps the development of the language portion of the brain. It is COMMONLY known to help with reading skills. That section of the book is even titled "Reading". I found no mention of educational videos or computers (I only quickly skimmed the grammar stage portion for it).

Oh, as for the length of time for the grammar stage - 1) as I quoted up top, she mentions adapting schedules 2) 4hrs is NOT a lot for a stage that covers 1-4 grades. 3) The times that you counted up... it says "60-110 mins BY fourth grade. (that means they work themselves UP to being able to handle doing a total of 4hrs a day till 4th grade.  

I agree about the environment being a factor. Classical education isn't without any of the things that I underlined below unless the environment lacks them. It has NOTHING to do with classical education itself. 

You took her too literal again with the sponge comment below. She did not say that children have NOTHING AT ALL to offer. She even put a paragraph in prior to talking about this and it says "There is nothing wrong with self expression, but when self expression pushes the accumulation of knowledge off stage, something is out of balance."  She was just saying youre not to really get a lot out of a child without putting anything into it. Im sorry but that is how the world works. Rarely does anything just happen on its own. There needs to be something invested (I cant think of too many situations where this isn't true in life). The more information ANYONE has, the more they have to offer (to themselves and the world). 

I do not think the problem was this books interpertation of the method, but instead, it likely was your interpertation of the book that was the problem. But hey, hopefully anyone who is interested in this method/book will educate themselves by reading it for themselves. The method certainly is not for everyone.

Im not sure how she came off condescending to you. She wasn't trying to be snobby or intellectually superior. However, she does prefer a specific form of education and decided to write a book about it since she has been homeschooled with the method, homeschooled her children with the method, has college degrees in the areas of history and english AND was teacher at school that used the method, as well as at a college. I am pretty sure that all of this experience and knowledge gives her credence on the matter. The book is a guide and has some instructional purposes. Im never shy about being honest, and I think that coming in here to write a book review on a book you did not finish, for a method that you do not use - is more condescending than anything you read in that book. 



Quoting bluerooffarm:

I wouldn't even be able to tell what method I primarily use.  I am eclectic and use what works for my kids.  I know what methods I don't use.  I am not an unschooler by any stretch of the imagination.  Looking from the outside many might actually believe I am using the classical method.  They would most likely wonder why we are not teaching Latin.  Looking at her list of works 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders should be exposed to, my kids have covered the eras in history and have heard of or read many of them, we have covered all of the topics she list for science for those grade levels, we cover grammar and etymology heavily, we read excessively even the youngest who are really just looking at pictures much of the time, we cover classical artists and music along with modern art and music.  

I felt as though what I wrote was extremely long, so I never even got to the stages of education.  

My opinion about the stages or levels is that my kids have always been curious about why and how things happen.  I never have to ask them why the vikings invaded France, they would begin speculating that all on their own.  So I disagree with her expectations of the very young (grammar stage) children.  I think critical thinking can occur much earlier than she expects it.  And she seems to be under the impression that kids will not come to you and ask to learn to read until they are fairly old, I've seen this happen very early.  My youngest son asked me to teach him to read when he was three.  Based on these occurances in my home, I don't see the stages as strictly as she seems to.

I think the stages of a child's development and the way they come to learning will depend a great deal on their environment.  My kids are surrounded by quality videos, they hear wonderful conversations at the supper and breakfast tables, they see how we stop a video and discus what we think is ludicrous or look up a historical fact that we do not know, they are surrounded by books (high literature, fluff, informational books, college tomes, we have it all), they are surrounded by family members who have differing political and religious views and who are able to hold discussions about those topics without name-calling or even making others angry.  I think environment plays a huge part in a child's development and I have always invited my children to give their opinions on topics.  I could be wrong, but her attitude that children are like a sponge and until they are filled with knowledge they have nothing to give would not work in our family.  Children are ushered right into the discussion from as early as they can.

I have not read any other books on the classical method.  And since it doesn't appear from my interpretations of this particular book that it would fit our family, I will most likely look elsewhere for other methods that will fit us better.  I chose this one because it was recommended so highly as a measure of the classical method.  If there is another that is recommended as a better explanation, I would still be curious to see other interpretations of the classical method.


Quoting celtic77dragon:

I mainly use a classical education; though I do have the flavor of some other methods mixed within. So I have been intriqued and waiting for this post. I am pretty sure you do not use the classical method so I was curious how this would turn out.

I assumed this would be like me writing a book review related to unschooling or Waldorf. Which might not be as fair or helpful to those who do use those methods or that are interested in them. So of course I would have preferred a review by someone like Aimee who has used the classical education, knows about the method quite a bit, and has read multiple books on the topic. 

I enjoyed reading this though; it was interesting to get your point of view on some of the aspects of both the method and the book. 

I have no arguements on the issues that you had with the book. It is subjective and adaptable. However, there is little to no information here on what the classical method is, the stages, how and why the subjects are taught, etc. I would consider these to be the more important aspects of the book. 




AutymsMommy
by Silver Member on Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM

As an aside... I've never been able to finish reading WTM. That particular brand of classical educatio doesn't fit my own preferences of classical education and I could tell that fairly early in the book. My own classical methodology leans more towards Latin centered and Jesuit methodology (also considered a classical model of education). My arguments against WTM mode of classical lean towards our personal preference for a heavier focus on religion, maths, and sciences than she suggests.

If I'm like COMPLETELY honest here, I'm not a huge fan of classic literature. I know, that's horrible of me, especially considering I'll force my children to read them at some point (and I won't tell them that I dislike them), but in my defense, I want to be fair to the literature - just because I don't enjoy it, doesn't mean they won't. I'm a fluffy kind of gal with my books. Me, desert island, Harry Potter, starbucks - I'm good.

I am a Home Schooling, Vaccinating, Non spanking, Nightmare Cuddling, Dessert Giving, Bedtime Kissing, Book Reading, Stay at Home Mom. I believe in the benefit of organized after school activities and nosy, involved parents. I believe in spoiling my children. I believe that I have seen the village and I do not want it anywhere near my children. Now for the controversial stuff:  we're Catholic, we're conservative, and we own guns (now there's no need to ask, lol).             Aimee















celtic77dragon
by Member on Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:26 AM
1 mom liked this

I respect what you are saying tidewater and I meant no disrespect by my comment here.

It's not my book - I don't mind if the book isn't well received by someone. However, I felt the need to clarify what classical education really is and what the book really was saying. Otherwise some people would have had the inaccurate information concerning not just the book, but the method as well.  

Quoting TidewaterClan:

Howdy Celtic!  :)   In defense of Blue, she'd had a post before Christmas about educational gifts folks had under the tree.  One of her presents was "The Well Trained Mind", and she was looking forward to reading it.  I asked her to let us know what she thought of it, and that's just what she did.  She gave her honest opinion, and that was what I (and others I'm sure) had asked.  I didn't see her view from the perspective of a person who wants to follow the classical method.  I saw it from the point of view of someone who is eclectic, and for me that was extremely handy.

I also thoroughly, and completely, enjoyed reading your presentation of the book.  Even though we're not (completely) following the classical method I can see from your reply where we are including much more than I thought, and that helps me conclude (between both of you) that adding it to my reading list would be beneficial.

JMO, but I love hearing what everyone thinks about a topic.  I always consider their background.  Honestly, that's why it's so great to have multiple reviews on a book/subject/??? because I identify with each person in a different way.  The more views, the easier my decisions become. :) 

Quoting celtic77dragon:

A few quotes from the intro section of the Well Trained Mind:

Pg XXV - Practical Considerations: Using The Well Trained Mind -

"It's a rare parent who will follow this program exactly. The freedom to tailor an academic program to your child's particular interests and needs is one of home education's greatest advantages." 

..."but our specific schedules, texts, and programs are just illustrations of how to put this philosophy into practice."  

..."you should always feel free to substitute, to pick and choose".

"It's a rate child who will do all the work we suggest - especially in the early grades."


First off, no-one who actually knew what a classical education was, would EVER think that you do it (based on what you said). You do not follow the trivium which is the core and essence to a classical education; classical education is the application of the trivium. It can be used with classic and modern materials. The materials themselves do NOT make it a classical education. The use of ONLY classical materials is a humanist classical education.

I understand that you wrote a lot - it is just that there is not even a mention of the trivium. I guess that I thought the review was supposed to be helpful by being informative concerning what the book/method was about. However, maybe it was just to give your two cents on specific details within the book that you do and do not like. 

You misunderstand what the trivium is. You are taking it too literal. The child can ask questions and use logic. However, the FOCUS is on content during the grammar stage. The lessons and assignments should focus more on filling their minds with imagery and facts. Background knowledge. You will add more to this as time goes on, but you are giving them the foundation to build upon. So you want to read a lot, cover a wide range of topics, give them lots of images. It is a great time for hands on projects, museum trips, nature walks, etc. 

Then in the second stage, you focus more on the logic and digging deeper into the material. The third stage is focused more on having the kids expand all of the previous skills AND to master regurgitating the information back in their own words. ((these are my quick description of the stages)).

All of these things can be done at any stage. However, the FOCUS changes. 

With reading ages, this varies. I understood her to mean for it to happen naturally for the child and not to force it. The tv time was mentioned in the preschool section and it said to limit the tv time so that you talk to the child often. It has been proven that this helps the development of the language portion of the brain. It is COMMONLY known to help with reading skills. That section of the book is even titled "Reading". I found no mention of educational videos or computers (I only quickly skimmed the grammar stage portion for it).

Oh, as for the length of time for the grammar stage - 1) as I quoted up top, she mentions adapting schedules 2) 4hrs is NOT a lot for a stage that covers 1-4 grades. 3) The times that you counted up... it says "60-110 mins BY fourth grade. (that means they work themselves UP to being able to handle doing a total of 4hrs a day till 4th grade.  

I agree about the environment being a factor. Classical education isn't without any of the things that I underlined below unless the environment lacks them. It has NOTHING to do with classical education itself. 

You took her too literal again with the sponge comment below. She did not say that children have NOTHING AT ALL to offer. She even put a paragraph in prior to talking about this and it says "There is nothing wrong with self expression, but when self expression pushes the accumulation of knowledge off stage, something is out of balance."  She was just saying youre not to really get a lot out of a child without putting anything into it. Im sorry but that is how the world works. Rarely does anything just happen on its own. There needs to be something invested (I cant think of too many situations where this isn't true in life). The more information ANYONE has, the more they have to offer (to themselves and the world). 

I do not think the problem was this books interpertation of the method, but instead, it likely was your interpertation of the book that was the problem. But hey, hopefully anyone who is interested in this method/book will educate themselves by reading it for themselves. The method certainly is not for everyone.

Im not sure how she came off condescending to you. She wasn't trying to be snobby or intellectually superior. However, she does prefer a specific form of education and decided to write a book about it since she has been homeschooled with the method, homeschooled her children with the method, has college degrees in the areas of history and english AND was teacher at school that used the method, as well as at a college. I am pretty sure that all of this experience and knowledge gives her credence on the matter. The book is a guide and has some instructional purposes. Im never shy about being honest, and I think that coming in here to write a book review on a book you did not finish, for a method that you do not use - is more condescending than anything you read in that book. 



Quoting bluerooffarm:

I wouldn't even be able to tell what method I primarily use.  I am eclectic and use what works for my kids.  I know what methods I don't use.  I am not an unschooler by any stretch of the imagination.  Looking from the outside many might actually believe I am using the classical method.  They would most likely wonder why we are not teaching Latin.  Looking at her list of works 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders should be exposed to, my kids have covered the eras in history and have heard of or read many of them, we have covered all of the topics she list for science for those grade levels, we cover grammar and etymology heavily, we read excessively even the youngest who are really just looking at pictures much of the time, we cover classical artists and music along with modern art and music.  

I felt as though what I wrote was extremely long, so I never even got to the stages of education.  

My opinion about the stages or levels is that my kids have always been curious about why and how things happen.  I never have to ask them why the vikings invaded France, they would begin speculating that all on their own.  So I disagree with her expectations of the very young (grammar stage) children.  I think critical thinking can occur much earlier than she expects it.  And she seems to be under the impression that kids will not come to you and ask to learn to read until they are fairly old, I've seen this happen very early.  My youngest son asked me to teach him to read when he was three.  Based on these occurances in my home, I don't see the stages as strictly as she seems to.

I think the stages of a child's development and the way they come to learning will depend a great deal on their environment.  My kids are surrounded by quality videos, they hear wonderful conversations at the supper and breakfast tables, they see how we stop a video and discus what we think is ludicrous or look up a historical fact that we do not know, they are surrounded by books (high literature, fluff, informational books, college tomes, we have it all), they are surrounded by family members who have differing political and religious views and who are able to hold discussions about those topics without name-calling or even making others angry.  I think environment plays a huge part in a child's development and I have always invited my children to give their opinions on topics.  I could be wrong, but her attitude that children are like a sponge and until they are filled with knowledge they have nothing to give would not work in our family.  Children are ushered right into the discussion from as early as they can.

I have not read any other books on the classical method.  And since it doesn't appear from my interpretations of this particular book that it would fit our family, I will most likely look elsewhere for other methods that will fit us better.  I chose this one because it was recommended so highly as a measure of the classical method.  If there is another that is recommended as a better explanation, I would still be curious to see other interpretations of the classical method.


Quoting celtic77dragon:

I mainly use a classical education; though I do have the flavor of some other methods mixed within. So I have been intriqued and waiting for this post. I am pretty sure you do not use the classical method so I was curious how this would turn out.

I assumed this would be like me writing a book review related to unschooling or Waldorf. Which might not be as fair or helpful to those who do use those methods or that are interested in them. So of course I would have preferred a review by someone like Aimee who has used the classical education, knows about the method quite a bit, and has read multiple books on the topic. 

I enjoyed reading this though; it was interesting to get your point of view on some of the aspects of both the method and the book. 

I have no arguements on the issues that you had with the book. It is subjective and adaptable. However, there is little to no information here on what the classical method is, the stages, how and why the subjects are taught, etc. I would consider these to be the more important aspects of the book. 





celtic77dragon
by Member on Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:40 AM

I read the book, liked the jist of the method, use it loosely as a guide. I casually look over curriculum materials - but I would NEVER use any one source for curriculum selections. 

I ordered the classical book that you suggested to me the other week.

Quoting AutymsMommy:

As an aside... I've never been able to finish reading WTM. That particular brand of classical educatio doesn't fit my own preferences of classical education and I could tell that fairly early in the book. My own classical methodology leans more towards Latin centered and Jesuit methodology (also considered a classical model of education). My arguments against WTM mode of classical lean towards our personal preference for a heavier focus on religion, maths, and sciences than she suggests.

If I'm like COMPLETELY honest here, I'm not a huge fan of classic literature. I know, that's horrible of me, especially considering I'll force my children to read them at some point (and I won't tell them that I dislike them), but in my defense, I want to be fair to the literature - just because I don't enjoy it, doesn't mean they won't. I'm a fluffy kind of gal with my books. Me, desert island, Harry Potter, starbucks - I'm good.


AutymsMommy
by Silver Member on Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:49 AM

I love most of HER curriculum (i.e. Peace Hill Press) - her grammar and writig are second to none, really, assuming you have a child who is an auditory learner (mine aren't). I wasn't thrilled with her science and maths suggestions, and there are some other little things I disagree with... but she does know her stuff, that's for sure. I'm a fan of starting Latin EARLIER than she suggests, and formal logic (in a fun, unassuming kind of way) is nice to include immediately in the school years.

Critical Thinking Company has some great logic and critical thinking books for the early years. I really enjoy their pre-k and kindergarten books.

I keep TRYING to figure out how to tweak SOTW for my Catholic family, but I have lazy tendencies (confession!) and always fall flat trying to "reinvent the wheel" there, when there ARE other options out there a better fit for our faith... but, by God, that SOTW series is the most enjoyable for the age range for many children and so attractive. I want it, but can't make it work. Makes me sad, lol.

I can't use just one source for curriculum either. EVERY YEAR I think about just ordering a nice tidy little box, with well written lesson plans, and then become depressed when I realize it won't work. Boxed fits well with MY lazy tendencies, but not with my children's abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

My current obsession is Memoria Press' packages. I want, I want, I want. I can't, I can't, I can't. No one box will fit my middle son and that's a hard pill to swallow, lol. I have to admit, though, that i've though about saying "screw it" and ordering it anyway, but the I look at what I'd have to tweak and I'm all "what's the point then?".

And now I'm rambling. Apologies. I need more coffee.

Quoting celtic77dragon:

Yeah, I just read the book, liked the jist of the method, use it loosely as a guide. I casually look over curriculum materials - but I would NEVER use any one source for curriculum selections.  

Quoting AutymsMommy:

As an aside... I've never been able to finish reading WTM. That particular brand of classical educatio doesn't fit my own preferences of classical education and I could tell that fairly early in the book. My own classical methodology leans more towards Latin centered and Jesuit methodology (also considered a classical model of education). My arguments against WTM mode of classical lean towards our personal preference for a heavier focus on religion, maths, and sciences than she suggests.

If I'm like COMPLETELY honest here, I'm not a huge fan of classic literature. I know, that's horrible of me, especially considering I'll force my children to read them at some point (and I won't tell them that I dislike them), but in my defense, I want to be fair to the literature - just because I don't enjoy it, doesn't mean they won't. I'm a fluffy kind of gal with my books. Me, desert island, Harry Potter, starbucks - I'm good.



I am a Home Schooling, Vaccinating, Non spanking, Nightmare Cuddling, Dessert Giving, Bedtime Kissing, Book Reading, Stay at Home Mom. I believe in the benefit of organized after school activities and nosy, involved parents. I believe in spoiling my children. I believe that I have seen the village and I do not want it anywhere near my children. Now for the controversial stuff:  we're Catholic, we're conservative, and we own guns (now there's no need to ask, lol).             Aimee















bluerooffarm
by Gold Member on Jan. 17, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Embedded.  P.S. I apologize for there being no text here earlier, my kitten stepped on my keyboard and screwed up the control key.


Quoting celtic77dragon:


First off, no-one who actually knew what a classical education was, would EVER think that you do it (based on what you said). You do not follow the trivium which is the core and essence to a classical education; classical education is the application of the trivium. It can be used with classic and modern materials. The materials themselves do NOT make it a classical education. The use of ONLY classical materials is a humanist classical education.

I understand that you wrote a lot - it is just that there is not even a mention of the trivium. I guess that I thought the review was supposed to be helpful by being informative concerning what the book/method was about. However, maybe it was just to give your two cents on specific details within the book that you do and do not like. 

You misunderstand what the trivium is. You are taking it too literal. The child can ask questions and use logic. However, the FOCUS is on content during the grammar stage. The lessons and assignments should focus more on filling their minds with imagery and facts. Background knowledge. You will add more to this as time goes on, but you are giving them the foundation to build upon. So you want to read a lot, cover a wide range of topics, give them lots of images. It is a great time for hands on projects, museum trips, nature walks, etc. 

How is my take on the trivium too literal?  Too strict, maybe, but too literal makes no sense.

Then in the second stage, you focus more on the logic and digging deeper into the material. The third stage is focused more on having the kids expand all of the previous skills AND to master regurgitating the information back in their own words. ((these are my quick description of the stages)).

All of these things can be done at any stage. However, the FOCUS changes. 

With reading ages, this varies. I understood her to mean for it to happen naturally for the child and not to force it. The tv time was mentioned in the preschool section and it said to limit the tv time so that you talk to the child often.

TV and computer times were their own chapter (chapter 10) in the Grammar Stage.  My children never watched tv or used a computer in the preschool years either.  But if a child in the Grammar Stage is not introduced to the computer then he or she will be behind in their education.

It has been proven that this helps the development of the language portion of the brain. It is COMMONLY known to help with reading skills. That section of the book is even titled "Reading". I found no mention of educational videos or computers (I only quickly skimmed the grammar stage portion for it). Even skimming it you should have found the entire chapter on the matter.

Oh, as for the length of time for the grammar stage - 1) as I quoted up top, she mentions adapting schedules 2) 4hrs is NOT a lot for a stage that covers 1-4 grades. 3) The times that you counted up... it says "60-110 mins BY fourth grade. (that means they work themselves UP to being able to handle doing a total of 4hrs a day till 4th grade.  

I did not use the hours suggested for the entire grammar stage.  I used the humbers of hours she listed in the section: Part 1 Epilogue: The Grammar Stage at a Glance: the 1st grade section: and I added together the SHORTEST suggested times for the week for a 1st grader.


I agree about the environment being a factor. Classical education isn't without any of the things that I underlined below unless the environment lacks them. It has NOTHING to do with classical education itself. 

You took her too literal again with the sponge comment below. She did not say that children have NOTHING AT ALL to offer. She even put a paragraph in prior to talking about this and it says "There is nothing wrong with self expression, but when self expression pushes the accumulation of knowledge off stage, something is out of balance."  She was just saying youre not to really get a lot out of a child without putting anything into it. Im sorry but that is how the world works. Rarely does anything just happen on its own. There needs to be something invested (I cant think of too many situations where this isn't true in life). The more information ANYONE has, the more they have to offer (to themselves and the world). 

She suggests that you not ask your child to make the easiest assertions of all:  What do you like about the story?  What do you not like about the story?  If you aren't even asking your child these easy assertions, then IMO that is saying that they have nothing to offer.  If you disagree, whatever.  But to say again that I am being too literal is (I must admit) a bit insulting.

I do not think the problem was this books interpertation of the method, but instead, it likely was your interpertation of the book that was the problem. But hey, hopefully anyone who is interested in this method/book will educate themselves by reading it for themselves. The method certainly is not for everyone.

Im not sure how she came off condescending to you. She wasn't trying to be snobby or intellectually superior. However, she does prefer a specific form of education and decided to write a book about it since she has been homeschooled with the method, homeschooled her children with the method, has college degrees in the areas of history and english AND was teacher at school that used the method, as well as at a college. I am pretty sure that all of this experience and knowledge gives her credence on the matter. The book is a guide and has some instructional purposes. Im never shy about being honest, and I think that coming in here to write a book review on a book you did not finish, for a method that you do not use - is more condescending than anything you read in that book. 


"We are not impressed by 'child-led' education (waiting until the child brings you a book and begs for a reading lesson) for the same reasons that we don't let our elementary children eat exactly what they want..."   Condescending.  She is putting down another method of education by patronizingly equating it with a child eating ice cream until they are sick.

There are others, but I am not going to search them out here.  I also have college degrees in secondary education in English, history, math and Physics.  And I'm studying for a Philosophical Masters in Reading Education.  I taught in a public school for nearly a decade and have been homeschooling for a couple years.  So what?  

I came in here to write a book review for people who asked me to.  I did not wait until I finished reading the second and third sections because I do not plan to continue reading it right now.  I was completely forthright and honest about BOTH of these facts right there in the OP.  There are many other eclectic educators in here that might be glad to hear what I have to say.  I am seriously tired of going rounds with you over such silly and inoccuous things.  Want a better representation of the classical method?  Write a post yourself.  You are irritated that I found the author condescending, so you want to descend into name calling, that's on you.

Quoting bluerooffarm:


-Teeter-Totter-
by on Jan. 17, 2014 at 11:12 AM
Great review!

I think we had a very similar opinion of this book :)

As always, the idea thief in me found many neat tricks and tips and ideas within its pages, and did expand my perspective in directions I normally wouldn't go.

I definitely didn't agree with some things she presented, but she certainly laid out a wonderful amount to be devoured and squirreled away.

I found the trivium sequence fascinating, although ( for my littles), the depth which she goes into at early ages would be a bit much, I think. I think I might just naturally have the inclination towards more hands-on, living it out curriculum as opposed to one so deeply attached to book studies. (As in I'd probably favor teaching say, car maintenance, over Latin).

Nothing wrong with her approach, and not saying her children don't know how to work on cars because of it or anything ;p...I think I'm just more of a 'less is more' approach.

And I might be mistaken (I read it over a year ago), her intro left me a little pouty I think. Something to do with the terrible parents who don't ensure their children know all their letters or some such before kindergarden. :D

Because I'm definitely of the mind that if they want to learn their letters before 5, I'll teach them no questions asked...but if they're not interested yet, I'll wait until then to start. I was afforded that option and feel that since it didn't hold me back in any way, I'll offer the same to mine.

Anyways, sorry for rambling, just wanted to say thanks again for your review, and to everyone on here for sharing their interpretations and opinions on the book, and schooling for that matter. You guys are great! ;)
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